I’m proud of a few blue items

Isn't pride about status? (am I belaboring the obvious? - I don't know)

If status-seeking is as inescapable as breathing, then why not simply embrace it as a natural part of us? The poor repute of status-seeking - which seems to be an undercurrent of much discussion about it - was explained, I believe on this blog, as nothing other than itself a product of status-seeking. That is, if you are known to be seeking status, then that betrays your own status insecurity and therefore lowers your status. So the problem with status-seeking is that it's low-status. So the negative assessment of status-seeking is itself a product of status-seeking.

I’d like to think I don’t that much care about my status

Naturally, since it is high-status not to care. The securely high-status can dispense altogether with status-seeking, since there is no danger of losing status, and this lack of concern in turn demonstrates (and helps to secure) high status.

It's interesting, though, that the very existence of the "status moves" mentioned demonstrate that the actual situation is more complex than that everyone is seeking (higher) status. On the contrary, it demonstrates that people are continually signaling both lower status and higher status. So it simplifies matters to suppose that everyone is constantly seeking to raise his status. In fact, if the conversational status signals are to be interpreted as signs of intent, then as often as not people seek to place themselves at a lower status than those around them.

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Since you can't avoid making status moves, I think the best is to just be cognizant of it. Not that you should monitor every single piece of communication, but that you become aware of the underlying motivations when argumentation becomes heated.

Say you become annoyed by a comment and consider replying to the comment. If you are still annoyed when you are writing the comment, you probably will try to lower the commenter's status. It could perhaps be useful in these situations to take a step back and try to analyze why one got annoyed in the first place and to notice one's own motivations in the said situations.

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I think you misunderstand improv. The signals listed there are tools for use on the stage, to inform the audience of the relations between the characters. Those relationships are fictional: they are, by definition, exactly what the authors (in improv, the actors) signal that they are.

The problem that the improv teacher and author Keith Johnstone started with was that actors were unable to act simple scenes realistically. The actors were unable to make most simplest scenes seem real. Johnstone attributed this to the lack of understanding of status. When the actors were made aware of status, the scenes suddenly became alive.

So, in Johnstone's argument, explicit status manipulation is a tool for actors for making their acting seem more realistic. In real life we make status moves mostly unconsciously and we don't pay much conscious attention to them.

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An interesting WSJ article on signaling & status.


Favorite quote:"In life you don't know what's behind the surface and why a person behaves a certain way, so you have to be forgiving."

You don't, but maybe you should.

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Do you think that would attract negative attention?

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But it looks bad to do things to directly for status; that seems too desperate. So usually we have other conscious motivations, and unconsciously adjust our behavior to manage status. This lets us avoid showing or seeing how much status matters to us.

Oh man, I want to live where you live. So many people I've known are unashamedly status oriented. What they do tend to avoid showing, very adroitly, is unfair play... So much for 'may the best man/woman win'.

If I can gain status on my terms, I will hardly be ashamed of it but I aren't one to 'flaunt it' either, mainly because I don't want to arouse potentially negative, even dangerous, attention. I would certainly flaunt status i.e. a Ferrari (sp?) for the sake of picking up women... but then I'd subject them to some rather intensive Theodore Dalrymple style exploration of the moral conscience. What makes you so special? If you, through sexual attraction, could displace the prospects of a girl who'd worked very hard but wasn't sexually attractive, would you?

A bet you do it everyday and I'll prove it. And so on.

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being subject to an audit = status loweringauditing yourself = status raising.

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You as the proprietor of the site have certain status from your proprietorship that isn’t shown. Also, the written word has somewhat different status rules than in-person interactions.

I agree. Just being a blogger is status raising. It's like walking on stage to speak. You're on the soapbox; I'm not. Being a commenter is lower status. So on some level everyone knows to play those roles. It's built into the medium. If someone violates the dynamic they're ignored.

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Yes. Important point!

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The notifications of replies isn't discountable either. I suspect most conversations on OB end simply because someone stops bothering to check back for replies.

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I find that blogging on Less Wrong with its voting system for comments really helps with A1: Having no visible reaction to what the other person said. When a comment disagrees with you and gets voted up, it becomes a lot harder to ignore than when it just disagrees with you.

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Richard is correct. If it was easy or risk free to act in a high status manner then everyone would do it. It isn't. People are constantly monitoring other people's status signals. You don't really want to piss off your boss.

You should definitely read the book impro:


On interesting point he makes is that there is no neutral status signals and friends just alternate high and low status signals.

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I'm not sure what it says about my feelings about your status, but I asked myself which things you could change to blue that would cause me to enjoy your blog more. My answer is these three:

B2: Dancing around your words when talking about something that will displease the other person.B4: Adjusting the way you say something to help the other person understand.C6: Agree that they are right and you were wrong.

The first two are primarily about disclaimers: more disclaimers about issues that you think will anger people, which will better help people understand what you mean; and saying what you mean more times in more ways so as to reduce confusion

The third is about looking back at what you've written in the past and identifying places where you were right and wrong. You do often link to yourself when you find followup evidence of issues where you were right about, but you, like most people, usually ignore issues where you were wrong. Interestingly, I don't think this is deliberate: I trust your intentions enough to believe that if you were to go back through and evaluate, you would be willing to recognize where you were wrong.

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reality cannot be conjured into existence by symbolic acts.

Of course it can! A great deal of human interaction only exists as rough mental models of other people's behaviour. We know a great deal about ourselves but only a little bit about other people. Therefore, we are all free to influence the appearance of reality through "symbolic acts" like status raising and lowering.

Status exchanges are much easier to observe off-line, of course. Consider a homeless guy who begs change from a wealthy businessman. The businessman can raise his status by ignoring him, or by giving him change. Conversely, the homeless guy could potentially raise his own status by intimidating the businessman. Or he could lower his own status in exchange for money by behaving obsequiously. What this all comes down to in the end is choice, though - the homeless guy and the businessman can both choose to behave in status raising or lowering ways, regardless of who they "actually" are.

Mating behaviour is another obvious proof of this; the same man may act low-status to a beautiful woman and high-status to a less attractive one, the only difference lying in his level of confidence. Given a bit more confidence (or a few more drinks), he might act high-status to the beautiful woman - which would still be a purely symbolic act that has little relation to his fitness as a mate.

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